From the Principal

Here we are in Week Eight of Third Term in the midst of a feverously busy period! There are many things happening around the place over which we have very little control and yet rather than being sapped of energy I get the sense these activities are energy giving for the community. The reason I believe this to be true is that many of the activities are community based and in participating in them we come to understand how truly fortunate we are to be a member of such a community. Part of my reflection this week is to focus on how important I believe it is to be part of a strong community.

This week we hosted 45 students and 6 staff from one of our Salesian schools in Samoa, Don Bosco Technical Centre, Alafua. They are in the middle of their ‘Gift of Hope ‘Siva’ Don Bosco Music and Dance Tour’. Their presence has reminded us that we belong to the worldwide Salesian community with its vast geographical coverage and multitude of cultural back grounds. The Samoan culture is quite beautiful, bringing song and dance and a deep Christian faith that is palpable.

The boys on tour are aged between 15 –25, currently studying a variety of trades at their school. Fr Chris Ford, former Principal of Salesian College Chadstone and currently principal of Don Bosco Technical Centre and tour guide accompanied the boys. The boys performed three concerts for our community – each a feast for the senses. Their music, dance, song and most importantly their sense of joy was a wonderful experience for all in the audience. Our boys appeared mesmerised by the performances. I have witnessed the gifts the Samoan people have to offer previously and they never cease to make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. The voices of these young men is something to behold. Their performances were rich and talented and very prayerful, illustrating for our boys a tiny bit of their culture. Participating in one of their prayer sessions is very moving, something I would love to experience on a daily basis.

These young men have left a great impression on all who interacted with them. The tour served as a great opportunity for our students to experience aspects of another culture whilst recognising the connection we have as Salesians. I thank the many staff who helped organise and supervise the various aspects of the Samoan visit.

An integral part of our community is our parent body and it was so pleasing to witness their commitment to this visit through the Parents Association providing dinner for the boys on Monday evening. The number of meals provided meant the boys were well fed and gave me a real sense of pride. I would also like to thank Barb, our Canteen Manager, for the preparation and serving of meals for the boys.

So many other staff contributed, Mrs Michelle Collins and the administration team, the maintenance team, the I.T Team, Mrs Mary Menz, Ms Suzie McErvale and Ms Nikita Rodrigues, Mr Adam Croft and Maryanne Xuereb and the sound and light support crew, Ms Laura Collins, the Tour Guides, Student leaders, in particular the College Captain Mr Joshua Knight under the direction of Ms Rachel Ivey and Ms Elissa Galante, the staff who supported yesterday’s program with a particular thanks to the staff, students and parents who attended last night’s performance, it was a real community effort.

This week we have another community event, the Year 8 Father Son Night. This night is organised by the College to highlight and celebrate the significance and importance of the relationships of our boys and their Dads. We look forward to as many dads attending as possible. The following morning we will celebrate our annual Father’s Day Mass and breakfast. Once again this is event is about coming together as a community to celebrate the father figures in our lives.

Next week the community celebrations continue with our annual Community Week. There are various activities held over the week to celebrate everything great about this community. We will reconnect with past staff, meet with our old boys from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, participate in a whole school walkathon, share a community dinner for the current staff and enjoy Community Day together – making for a wonderful and rightful celebration of this great Salesian College Chadstone Community.

As mentioned we celebrate Father’s Day this Friday with our annual Father’s Day Mass and Breakfast which provides a time for fathers and sons to come together and for us all to appreciate the importance of fathers in our lives. With all the commercialism that comes with days such as Father’s Day it would be easy to become a little cynical. The fact that they these occasions have been hijacked by commercial interests and turned into commercial ventures, moving at a tangent to the original idea of taking time out to reflect on the importance of fathers and other significant males in our lives is problematic. So I encourage all in the community to reflect on Father’s Day and its importance to you for all the right reasons.

Father’s Day is a day we reflect on the importance of the role of our fathers or other significant males in our lives. It’s the day in the year when men stereotypically receive a pair of socks or jocks, a shirt or a bad tie, however, if this is all it is then we have missed the point. Fathers, for the most part, don’t want or expect much, most are satisfied with the knowledge that they are loved and respected by their children.

Father’s Day is very special to me. Although receiving gifts is fun, it is never the thing I look forward to most. The two things I do focus on are; how fortunate I am to be blessed with three beautiful children and that being a dad is the most important job that I’ll ever have. A job that neither I or any father ever received formal training for, a job where there is no retirement age, a job we will never master, but a job that brings the greatest of joys the deepest of learning’s, a job that defines who we are.

As fathers, I believe our Job is to make family our greatest priority. Our children should never have a moment’s uncertainty about whether they are loved, that they are believed in, whether they are supported, or whether they belong. These are the great responsibilities of fatherhood.

I also believe as fathers we should never lose sight of the things we can learn from our kids. The influence our children can have on their parents is widely under-rated. I know that I’m continuing to learn and change through my kids every day. I think parents spend twenty years raising their kids, and about half-way through that process, the kids start raising their parents as well. In the end, everyone is better off – the older generation passes on its wisdom to the young, and the younger generation keeps us in touch, keeps us young.

A final point with regards Father’s Day relates to men who will never be biological fathers but bring so many of the gifts to which I have referred to so many and that is the religious men. We are blessed in the Salesian community to have so many of these great men working with and for us and I pray that as we remember our own fathers that we keep these men, who do so much great work in our prayers and in our thoughts especially this Sunday.

Insight Survey

Annually, Insight SRC and the Catholic Education Office Melbourne support schools to conduct their School Improvement Surveys (SIS). These surveys aim to identify factors that contribute to the organisational health of our school and provide valuable information about future planning and ongoing improvement. An invitation to participate in the 2016 surveys has been sent home to all parents and I encourage everyone to complete them. Feedback is the most important way we can improve as a school committed to achieving excellence.

On Friday all families will receive or will have received a letter inviting them to take part in the Insight Data survey. The letter will be sent home with the boys. As part of the Melbourne diocese Salesian College is a willing participant in this program which in turn requires us to undertake a variety of activities. One of which is this annual participation in the Insight Data Survey. Over the next two weeks Staff, students and parents will be asked to complete the survey. All families should receive a hard copy of a letter which outlines how to complete the survey including login details.

This survey is part of the Catholic Education Office Melbourne’s expectation that every school in the diocese undertake the ‘School Improvement Framework’ program to assist in its ongoing commitment to improving learning outcomes for all students across the diocese.

I encourage all families to complete the survey as it is a great opportunity for you to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the College. I believe this to be of high importance given that parents highlighted in the last survey that an area for improvement is the ability to contribute to the College community. We need a large number of families to complete the survey to ensure statistical reliability in the data we collect. Students will participate within the school program.

The dates for opening and closing times are given in the letter. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. The letter highlights the fact that completing the survey is voluntary, however if we all take the position that someone else will do it we may not get the numbers we need; and more importantly, you don’t get your say. I thank you in anticipation and look forward to observing the areas our community members see as our strengths and weaknesses.

I wish everyone in our community a great week.

Mr Robert Brennan